ARTHRITIS RESEARCH IN ACTION
I was 13-years-old when I was diagnosed with juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA).
I didn’t know what it was. My grandmother had arthritis, but I was young and healthy. How could I have an incurable disease? It didn’t make sense.
I didn’t know any other kids like me.
The next few years were really hard. My feet were swollen, making it challenging to walk, and the pain and swelling in my hands made it difficult to write or do my schoolwork.
During my elementary and high school years, I underwent a lot of trial and error with my medications. By the time I was 16, I’d gone through four medications and maxed out on all of the medication options for children.
At that time, I tried joint injections and had 10 joints injected at the same time – an incredibly painful experience. Thankfully, the relief from the injections lasted long enough for a new medication to take effect. Today, along with various lifestyle changes including a tailored diet, I’m doing much better.
“I recognize how critical research is to finding solutions to the challenges of a chronic disease like arthritis.”
– Natasha Trehan, Arthritis Patient Advisory Board member
As a teenager, I felt very alone with my disease.
Eventually, I found a support group for youth. From there, I started my platform – a podcast and blog, as well as hosting events to ensure young people with arthritis know that they are not alone. My podcast is called Take a Pain Check and has aired over 50 episodes now, covering all kinds of topics to help support youth living with arthritis. The overall goal is for young people to know they can still achieve their dreams, despite arthritis.
Now at 19, I am a member of Arthritis Research Canada’s Patient Advisory Board and a part of a team that is working in partnership with scientists to help find answers for people living with arthritis. It is important for me to share my experience and to help raise much needed awareness for this invisible disease that now affects over 6 million Canadians, of all ages.
Over the years, I’ve taken part in numerous research studies, starting when I received my first injections. I wanted to understand what was going on with my body – to help myself and others. I recognize how critical research is to finding solutions to the challenges of a chronic disease like arthritis.
Arthritis research changes lives.
Arthritis Research Canada’s 100+ innovative research projects are helping millions of people just like me triumph over arthritis and pursue our dreams. The research is discovering ways to prevent arthritis, diagnose people earlier, manage symptoms, and provide better treatments to improve overall quality of life. It is practical research that is providing tools and resources to stay employed, be physically active to reduce pain and increase mobility, addressing sleep issues like insomnia, and investigating life-threatening complications caused by arthritis like heart attack and stroke.
This past summer I worked as a research student at the Hospital for Sick Children. And today, I’m in my second year of a Biomedical Sciences Program, to pursue my goal to work in healthcare. A dream that I was once told wasn’t possible because of my struggle to write.
Arthritis has always made writing a challenge for me. I was once told that I shouldn’t pursue a career in science because of all the writing it requires. But I was determined. When I couldn’t write, my friends transcribed my notes. I didn’t let arthritis stop me. Just like when I couldn’t find support, I created a platform for youth with arthritis to find the connection and help they needed. Arthritis isn’t going to stop me from achieving my dreams.
By supporting research, you are helping to make new medications, treatments and breakthroughs possible. You are improving millions of lives every year and showing people like me that we are not alone. You are helping people achieve their dreams.
Together with caring donors like you by our side, incredible, life-changing arthritis research is possible. Please help accelerate critical arthritis research this holiday season. It would be the best gift ever.